Both Oberlin graduates of the Class of 1928, Ernest Fisk, diplomat and journalist, and his wife, Mary Wright Fisk, served the government for over twenty years, opening communication between the government of the United States and Asia. They witnessed first-hand the reorganization of the post-World War II world.
Ernest Harlan Fisk was born on January 28, 1906 to Harlan W. and Louise B. Hubbell Fisk of Fargo, North Dakota. Ernest and his parents moved to Kensington, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., where Ernest grew up. He finished high school in three and one half years and ranked in the highest one third of his class (Central High School, Washington, D.C.). He entered Oberlin College in 1924 at the age of 18. A very active leader on campus, he served as the Editor-in-chief of the Oberlin Review; Chairman of Publicity for the 1928 Mock Convention; and, he was a Senator in the Men’s Senate. He was also a member of the Spanish Club, Frosh Glee Club, Musical Union, and the United Choir. His experience as Editor-in-chief of the Oberlin Review complemented his Journalism major, with which he graduated in 1928. Immediately after graduation, Ernest moved to Painesville, Ohio, where he became a Reporter for the Painesville Telegraph.
Mary Katherine Wright Fisk was born March 12, 1907 in Oberlin, Ohio, to Clarence J. and Nellie Parsons Wright. Her father, who grew up in Oberlin, owned a store in town until his sudden death in 1969. Her mother, born in Vermilion, Ohio, attended the Oberlin Academy and graduated from Oberlin College in 1903. After graduating from Oberlin High School, Mary attended Oberlin College where she majored in sociology and was a member of the Ladies Literary Society. She graduated in 1928 and went on to the University of Pittsburgh, where she received and A.M. degree in Retail in 1929.
Ernest and Mary were married at her home on Woodland Street in Oberlin on May 31, 1930. At the time, the couple was working in Painesville, Ohio -- Ernest as editor of the Geneva Free Press and a Reporter for the Painesville Telegraph, and Mary as advertising manager of the Gail G. Grant Company Department Store. Both continued in their jobs until 1933, when Ernest became a reporter for the International News Service and Mary became a full-time homemaker. Over the next ten years, Ernest Fisk worked as a make-up editor for The Canton Repository of Canton, Ohio, 1934-1935; Telegraph Editor of the Portsmouth Times, of Portsmouth, Ohio, 1935-1939; and Managing Editor of the East Liverpool Review, of East Liverpool, Ohio, 1939-1944. In East Liverpool, Mary Fisk served as Chairman of the Red Cross Canteen.
During WWII Ernest Fisk's career took a new direction. In 1944, he began news writing and public relations work with the Office of War Information in Europe. This started a career in government, which would span the next twenty years. While Ernest was in Europe, Mary came back to Oberlin where she worked as Assistant Alumni Secretary for Oberlin College. In 1946, Ernest became Public Affairs Attaché (USIS) for the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. From then on, his work centered on Asia and he was affiliated with the Department of State.
Over the next twenty years, Ernest and Mary Fisk lived in New Delhi, India until 1950; Lahore, Pakistan from 1953-1957; and Katmandu, Nepal from 1959-1963. His positions were as Consul General in Pakistan and Counselor of Embassy in Nepal. In the intervening years, the Fisks lived in Washington, D.C., where Ernest worked as Near East and Africa Director of USIS Programs; IIA (forerunner of USIA and Department of State), 1950-1953; Public Affairs Advisor for Far Eastern Bureau, Department of State, 1957-1959; and Public Affairs Advisor for Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Department of State, 1963-1965. In 1965, Ernest retired, but was recalled for part-time work as a recruiter for USAID. In retirement, the Fisks returned to Oberlin, residing on Woodland Avenue.
During his professional career, Ernest was the President of the Blue Pencil Club of Ohio; Vice-President of Associated Press Editors of Ohio; and Vice-President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of East Liverpool, Ohio.
On May 21, 1992, Ernest Harlan Fisk died in Oberlin, Ohio. Mary K. Fisk continued to reside on Woodland Avenue, then at some point moved to the Kendal Community in Oberlin, Ohio, donating her house to Oberlin College. She lived at Kendal until her death on February 13, 2006. They had no children.
Many relatives of the Fisks attended Oberlin College. In addition to Mary's mother, Nellie Parsons Wright, Mary's brother, Robert B. Wright attended from 1928 to 1933, and Ernest's sister, Marion S. Fisk Fleming attended from 1924 to 1925. Other relatives include Theodore W. Crossen, attended 1913-1916; Robert J. Crossen, Class of 1921; Ruth V. Crossen, Class of 1924; Virginia M. Crossen, Class of 1924; David F. Crossen, attended 1927-1928; Mrs. A. J. Barton, Class of 1902; and Dr. C. G. Wright, Class of 1899.